’tis the season where we hear nothing but lavish nonsense about your “voice”, and rockin’ the vote, and making a difference. But should more people be voting? And does your “voice” really matter?
Let’s go after the second point first: What is the impact of your vote, really? Say you live in a moderately large city/county in New Mexico (why here? I know the numbers offhand) with half a million people in a state with 2.2 million, and you get an ideal turnout of 50% or so. (Good luck with that, by the way…) Your vote is 0.0004% in the local election, 0.00009% in the state election, and a brick-through-a-window impact of 0.0000006% of the national vote, if we were stupid enough to go to a popular vote election for the president.
Now figure the average voter is a lazy (or, let’s be nice, very busy) piece of work who only votes for their favorite
sports team political party. You get between 42-48% of the vote per election with say 6% of the electorate that swings one way or the other based on bullshit news stories and/or single issues like guns or abortion. That’s the “market”, that 6% — about 9.3 million at the national level, really mean anything. If you figure it that way, your vote, if you assume the parties have their core locked up like a Cowboys or 49ers jersey wearing mook, is worth about 0.007% (!!!) [Caveat: I’m a historian for a reason — i suck at math, so everyone thank Mr. Jim Sorenson (of Transformers fan book fame, for the assist on the numbers… SCR]
Do you wonder why no one in Washington is listening to you? Why all they target are the “right now!” low-information voters? Why all the legislation is knee-jerk and idiotic?
Now consider that special interests — non-profits, corporations, interest groups, religious groups, unions, etc. — have enough money pooled that they can capture the attention of the self-serving morons you keep electing, and you start to see other issues in how much your vote is worth. The National Rifle Association has about 5 million actual members but likes to claim the 70-140million gun owners (depending on whose numbers you use…) as their own, and the AFSCME — the largest donor to the Democrats — only represents 1.3 million public sector workers but likes to claim them all as their own, you have to ask why they have that much clout. [I am not a member of either, but I have guns, so I’m kinda glad the NRA does what it does, but it does not effectively represent my personal policy preferences on guns, for the most part…]
So is it really worth voting? I would suggest that pushing more people to vote reduces your inout with the people running the show.
Secondly, should you vote? Sacrilege! I hear people screaming through the vasty electronic sea. Every voice should be heard, every vote counted, duty to vote, responsibility to vote!
You have a duty and responsibility to an informed vote. Just going in and slapping the party lever like a lab rat looking for a food pellet is not the way to do it. Voting for the name you recognize is not the way to do it. (In fact, i could make a lengthy case for why that’s the person you should not vote for….but another time.) So here’s your voter checklist — if any one of these is NO, stay the fuck home.
1. Do you know the salient points — on both sides — of at least three major policy issues?
2. Do you know anything about the candidates beyond what they’re telling you about themselves? Did you bother to look up a few news articles connected to their past service?
3. Are you willing to vote for the other side or a third party candidate, even if your pet issue might not be represented as well as you would like? (Hi, gun and abortion and immigration and social security voters…)
4. Have you ever had to pay taxes?
Stupid and uninformed voters’ voices do not enhance democracy, they weaken the quality of candidates and make for ridiculous policy based on whatever the majority happen to want at that moment. (This is why the Senate is supposed to be appointed by state governments, not elected as they have been since the Progressive politicians messed at up a century ago — they were supposed to be a check on transitory passions of the electorate.)
So, no — don’t Rock the Vote, kids and social-media fueled morons. Leave that to the adults.
Now, get off my lawn.